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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

State Senator Marie Chappelle-Nadal Stalls Local Control Vote

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 4:10 PM

Updated September 19, 9:45 a.m. to show that new members to the POA's executive board won't take office until November 1. The results of the election were announced Friday, September 16, not September 28. Of the 18 seats on the board, only one changed hands: David Bonenberger will replace Tom Walsh as president. Bonenberger has said he is not totally convinced that the department should support the local control bill. The other 17 member have voted to support the bill.

The Missouri Senate Ways and Means and Fiscal
Oversight Committee was supposed to vote on the local control bill today, but the vote was delayed by the chairman, State Senator Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield).

"As chairman, I don't feel
comfortable moving a bill that one of my members has a fundamental
problem with," he said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The member, unsurprisingly, was State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City). The most vocal critic of the local control bill from the start, Chappelle-Nadal requested that the committee vote be delayed because the St. Louis Police Officers Association is holding a leadership election tomorrow.

It is unclear how this is at all relevant, for two reasons.

First, according to POA business manager Jeff Roorda, new members won't take office until November 1.

And second, per the P-D:

Roorda said the 18-member executive board voted unanimously to support the latest version of the local control bill. Only four current board members are facing opposition, he said, which means even if all of them were to lose it would not impact the organization's position.

The election has absolutely no relevance to the Senate vote.

Purgason's decision to delay the vote is especially curious since, according to the P-D, he says that the vote will likely take place tomorrow and that he expects the bill to pass. So today's occurrence is essentially a useless sideshow. 

The local control bill passed out of the House on Friday and will be voted on by the full Senate if/when it passes out of this committee.

In July, Chappelle-Nadal told the Riverfront Times, "As the bill stands, I'm OK with it." But since the special session began, she seems to be turning up her opposition again -- except this time it's subtle. Last week she said she was skeptical of the minor changes that were made to the bill over the summer and criticized Mayor Francis Slay's office for not sufficiently communicating the adjustments in the bill. She also said that she plans to try to amend a rule in the bill that requires that officers hired after January 1, 2012, live in the city, a mandate in the city charter that applies to all city employees.

While it's not surprising that Chappelle-Nadal is slowing down local control, it is somewhat telling that Purgason, the committee chairman, accepted her request. He said that he delayed the vote "out of respect" for Chappelle-Nadal. After all, it is a no-harm-no-foul change.  But perhaps the move also suggests that the state Senate remains lukewarm toward local control and that the bill's final passage is not yet assured.

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